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December 30, 2013

Tournament Highlights for Monday

The second wave of holiday tournament basketball - and the finish of the first wave - gets underway later today. There will be plenty of good basketball action but some games I am especially amped up for.

Just a few miles down the road from my Central City office (thankfully, this cold is killing me!), Class B Beatrice (5-0) will battle Class C-2 power Hastings St. Cecila (4-2) at 2 p.m., with the Beatrice girls (2-2) facing unbeaten St. Cecilia (5-0) at 4 p.m.

In the boys game, St. Cecilia has won four in a row since opening with losses to C-1 unbeaten Columbus Scotus (7-0) and powerful Bishop Neumann (5-2). What turned things around was a solid win over 6-1 Doniphan-Trumbull and you have a feeling the Bluehawks are on a pretty steep path to success, given the youthful nature (think sophomores) of its rotation. That success might not come today, however, as Beatrice has proven to once again be an elite Class B program, that recent one-sided win over a good Omaha Roncalli team a feather in its cap.

In the girls game, Beatrice was upset by Crete (at least I think that's an upset), but also played powerful Pius X within three points. St. Cecilia is going to want to run, run, run and pressure the ball and has done both with great effectiveness so far this season; the Hawkettes have handed both Neumann and Blue Hill their only losses of the season and recently beat 7-2 St. Paul by 30 points.

At the Great Northeast Nebraska Shootout, played at Wayne State College, two really good, 7-2 Class C-1 teams will battle for the boys tournament title, when Wayne and Boone Central/Newman Grove tip off at (about) 8:30 p.m. The boys final is the last game from three days of basketball craziness in one of the best tournaments this side of districts.

I saw Wayne earlier at my home away from home - Wahoo, been there twice already this season - and the Blue Devils are an athletic lot with their only losses to now-Class A South Sioux City in overtime and to Wahoo...on the night I saw them play. (Oops.) Boone has a lot of athletes, too, and as the defending C-1 state tournament runner-up much is expected of the Cardinals in 2014. This should prove to be one of the better regular season games of the season.

Another boys game that I wish I could see (and might, see if I am still conscious by then) would be when unbeaten Class D-2 Spalding/Spalding Academy (6-0) faces unbeaten Class D-1 Overton (5-0) in the Ravenna tournament, tip-off at 6:15. Saw Spalding earlier, after my tour of the church, and despite all their graduation losses the Knights still have some skilled basketball players, lots of speed and a 6-7 post who can play, senior Cain Haschke. Overton is another exceptionally athletic team with lots of guards and a real nice forward in senior Tanner Ryan; the Eagles seem in line for a big season after having a three-year state tournament run snapped last season. The beauty of this game is that is simply a great test for two really good teams who will then go their separate ways.

* On a related note, and we will get to it once all this holiday craziness is behind us, the Class C-1 girls race has a couple of expected interlopers at the top of the wild card standings.

Fairbury is presently 9-0 after winning the Lincoln Lutheran holiday tournament and could very easily be 15-0 when it faces currently unbeaten York in late January. Platteview, which drops from Class B, is 6-0 and getting ready for a noon tip-off in the finals of the Ashland-Greenwood tournament. Could be the Trojans are still unbeaten when they get Concordia, Syracuse and Neumann late in the season.

The Class C-1 girls race is crowded, with old standbys Minden (9-0) and Kearney Catholic (7-0) and defending state champ Pierce (7-1) all right there. Should make for an exciting two months after the holidays...


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